A collection of rare photographs of the contemporary painter F.N. Souza, shot by photographer Ida Kar, is currently showing at the refurbished Queen’s Gallery in the British Council in the Capital. Born in Goa, Souza was one of the early masters who made it big in the West with his portraiture of low life and expressionistic style.
Now, an exhibition, Ida Kar: Portraits of F.N. Souza, has brought to India a slice of Souza’s life between 1957 to 1961 that had not been revealed to art lovers in the country before. It is also the first time that Souza’s photographs have moved out of the Ida Kar archives in London for public display.
The exhibition is a collaboration between the Grosvenor Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery in London, the Vadehra Gallery and the British Council in the Capital.
The black-and-white photographs, composed like an artist’s canvas, show a frail Souza, who passed away in 2008, clad in an ill-fitting formal suit and tie in his little studio in London amid dirty laundry and portraits of nude women, Biblical portraits and morphing city-scapes.
Kar captured the artist seated on an armchair in a collage of moods - pensive, smiling, mischievous, introspective, and gentle.
“We came across hundreds of Ida Kar’s photographs 10 years ago. While looking through them, I found seven photographs of Souza and decided to publish them...cataloguing the photographs took us almost a decade,” says Conor Macklin, director of Grosvenor Gallery.